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28 August 2009

side b: the music lover's comic anthology

side b: the music lover's comic anthology
Edited by Rachel Dukes with Mike Lopez.
232 page trade paperback. $22.99.
Published by Poseur Ink.
Diamond Order Code APR090973
ISBN: 978-0-615-22080-2
www.poseurink.com
www.poseurink.com/sideb/

Anthologies in any format or genre are hit and miss. Some people just don't like them at all. I love them and generally prefer them to longer works by one artist. I like variety. Themed anthologies are often a disaster though. It's hard to find a theme in which a group of people can all be strong without just repeating each other. side B however had me at "music lover's". I loves me some music and I loves me some comics. This book would have to suck very badly for me to not like it.
I also like a lot of it's contributors. I'm a big fan of Jeffrey Brown and his love for music is one of his stronger themes. Brown provides a really fun little story about a Cat Power show. It's a nice change to see Brown's work at the larger size used for this book. The drawing is in his sketchbook style but it comes off really strong.
I'm also a big fan of Megan Rose Gedris' webcomic Yu+Me:Dream and it's fantastic colors. Her contribution here is of course in black and white but it still looks great. Her drawing is always impressive and the story about two muses fighting over her is a lot of fun.

When I think about music comics one of the first names that comes to mind is Jim Mahfood so it is very fitting that he is in the book. His story is just four pages but it is one of the more detailed things I've seen him do. It's very text heavy but the subject matter is interesting enough to the music nerd part of my brain to keep my happy.
Ed Choy Moorman is quickly becoming one of my favorite cartoonists. His piece here is what I would expect from him. It is thoughtful, touching and beautifully drawn. I only wish it were twenty pages longer.
Torso is a six pager written by Kat Vapid and drawn by Ryan Kelly. The writing is really sharp and clever and Kelly's art has a lot of the same things I like about Phillip Bond with a dash of Paul Pope. I actually have a Ryan Kelly graphic novel in my basement that I have not had the time to get into. I'm going to make time. I really like his stuff.
Christy C. Road has a very text heavy piece but the writing is terrific. The drawing is very strong as well. There are so many strong pieces that I really can't get into all of them. Liz Baillie, Jon Sperry, Box Brown, Jonathan Baylis ... I could go on but I'd never finish the review. Great work all around.
My favorite piece of the book is So Closer to the Wall- It's Witchcraft, So Do It! by Jason Marcy & Joe Meyer. It's a meandering auto-bio piece in the Harvey Pekar style. There is nothing spectacular about the drawing but it does a nice job giving emotional weight to this catalog of life's ups and downs and the songs attached to them. By connecting life events to songs the story makes me feel like I know the creator's entire life after just six pages. It is raw and honest and really stuck with me.
Most all of the contributors have great drawing and storytelling chops. There are not any pieces that stand out to me and make me ask "What the Don Heck is that doing in here?" The pieces that work the least for me are the essay comics. Most of the comics are auto-bio which may not be for everyone. I personally love auto-bio comics. If the book has any weakness as a whole it is that there are a lot of recurring themes. The funny thing about letting people talk about music is that everyone thinks that they alone have this great unique personal relationship with music but it turns out (and this book is evidence) that we all share a lot of the same thoughts, feelings and even opinions about music.
The book itself is really well produced. Good print quality. A great looking cover by Lucy Knisely. A quality book all around. Poseur Ink did a great job and I hope they make more.

Your best pal ever,
Shannon Smith
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